Retribution: Do They Deserve to Die?
I represent 65 percent of the American people… that favor the death penalty.
I believe in the sanctity of human life.… We have heard about how cruel and
inhumane the death penalty is. What about Jerry Lane Jurek? He kidnapped a girl
from the streets of Cuero. When she refused to be raped, he strangled her [pause] he
strangled her and threw her in the river. We have heard about the criminal. We
have not heard about the victim.
KENNETH WAYNE ROBERTS, a TEXAS CITIZEN SPEAKING AGAINST THE
PROPOSED ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY, IN A PUBLIC HEARING
BEFORE THE TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN 1977
In the spring of 1977, several death-penalty bills were introduced in the Texas legislature. House Bill 945, which changed the method of execution from electrocution to lethal injection, was the only one that passed, but did so without much debate or fanfare. House Bill 563, introduced by Representative Sam Hudson, called for the abolition of capital punishment, and was the most controversial among the death-penalty bills. In a public hearing on the House floor on March 1, 1977, only two witnesses testified specifically in relation to the lethal-injection bill. In comparison, twenty witnesses were recognized to testify on HB 563. All but three witnesses testified in favor of the bill to abolish capital punishment. Supporters of the bill included an array of religious leaders, civil libertarians, death-penalty activists, law students, the parents of a death-row inmate, a former prison inmate, and other concerned citizens.
As during the debate over the reimplementation of capital punishment in 1973, the supporters of abolition again included references to the failure of the death penalty to deter crime. Rather than dwelling on the failure of the death penalty as a form of social defense, however, most of the participants expressed